Army Corps, NJDEP Sign Cost-Sharing Agreement for Passaic River Project (USA)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection have both signed a cost-sharing agreement that officially begins the Passaic River Basin General Reevaluation Study, analyzing and comparing flood risk management alternatives for communities throughout the basin.
The reevaluation is one of the 15 recommendations made by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s Passaic River Flood Advisory Commission.
“This agreement is an important milestone toward comprehensive, long-term flooding solutions for communities in the Passaic River Basin,” said New York District Commander Col. John R. Boulé. “We are committed to collaborating closely with the New Jersey DEP, our great partner, to rapidly complete the planning that leads to a project that significantly reduces the flood risk to the public that we serve.”
The General Reevaluation will be completed in two phases: a Conceptual Phase and Detailed Analysis Phase. The Conceptual Phase will examine different combinations of comprehensive flood risk management alternatives through existing data, updated engineering and a comparison of economic benefits. Potential alternatives include looking at the impacts and costs of taking no action in the basin, which is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to looking at combinations of levees, floodwalls, channel modification, non-structural measures and bridge and dam modification.
The study will also evaluate a new alternative that involves modification to Beatties Dam and the Two Bridges area. The Conceptual Phase will give the State an opportunity to determine which alternative(s) to proceed into the Detailed Analysis Phase based on conceptual costs and economics, environmental requirements and public consensus.
The Feasibility Cost-Sharing Agreement is for the $2.4 million dollar Conceptual Phase and will be split 50/50 between the state of New Jersey and the federal government.
“We recognize there is no silver bullet to stop flooding in the Passaic River Basin, and are making an aggressive effort to move people out of harm’s way through home buyouts and elevations in the most flood-prone areas,’’ said New Jersey DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “At the same time, partly through this joint effort with the Army Corps of Engineers, we are seeking ways to mitigate flood damage and help ease the pain suffered by residents living in this area.”
The study is a reevaluation of a feasibility study the Corps first completed in the late 1980s. Since then, aspects of that study’s recommendations have been implemented and other smaller projects have been completed in the Passaic River Basin. The feasibility study recommended a comprehensive plan which included an underground diversion, a series of levees and floodwalls and other flood risk management measures. The recommended project was authorized in 1990 and provided a 100 year level of protection within the Passaic River Basin.
However, public and state consensus could not be reached and the authorized project was not pursued. Several years have passed and many factors, including economic, population and environmental requirements, have changed the alternatives looked at in the original study are being reevaluated in order to determine the best possible flood risk management alternative for the Passaic River Basin.
The next major public step for the study will be explaining during two public kick-off sessions the scope, schedule and deliverables for the Conceptual Phase and overall Reevaluation.
Dredging Today Staff, June 15, 2012; Image: jaycashman